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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Erie Train Boy - Chapter 2. A Fair Exchange
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The Erie Train Boy - Chapter 2. A Fair Exchange Post by :Joshua_Ditty Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :3586

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The Erie Train Boy - Chapter 2. A Fair Exchange

CHAPTER II. A FAIR EXCHANGE

"Who can have robbed you?" asked the train boy, sympathetically.

"I dunno," answered Joshua sadly.

"How much have you lost?"

"Twenty-five dollars. No," continued Mr. Bascom with a shade of relief. "I put dad's fifteen dollars in my inside vest pocket."

"That is lucky. So you've only lost ten."

"It was all I had to spend in York. I guess I'll have to turn round and go back."

"But who could have taken it? Who has been with you?"

"Only Mr. Morris, a rich young man. He is nephew to the mayor of New York."

"Who said so?"

"He told me so himself."

"How was he dressed?" asked Fred, whose suspicions were aroused. "Did he wear a white hat?"

"Yes."

"And looked like a swell?"

"Yes."

"He got off at the last station. It is he that robbed you."

"But it can't be," said Joshua earnestly. "He told me he was worth quarter of a million dollars, and boarded at the Fifth Avenue Hotel."

"And was nephew of the mayor?"

"Yes."

Fred laughed.

"He is no more the mayor's nephew than I am," he said. "He is a confidence man."

"How do you know?' asked Joshua, perplexed.

"That is the way they all act. He saw you were a countryman, and made up his mind to rob you. Did you tell him where you kept your money?"

"Yes, I did. He told me there was lots of pickpockets in New York, and said I ought to be keerful."

"He ought to know."

"Can't I get my money back?" asked Mr. Bascom anxiously.

"I don't think there's much chance. Even if you should see him some time, you couldn't prove that he robbed you."

"I'd like to see him--for five minutes," said the young farmer, with a vengeful light in his eyes.

"What would you do?"

"I'd give him an all-fired shakin' up, that's what I'd do."

Looking at Mr. Bascom's broad shoulders and muscular arms, Fred felt that he would be likely to keep his word in a most effectual manner.

"I don't know what to do," groaned Joshua, relapsing into gloom.

As he spoke he slid his hand into his pocket once more, and quickly drew it out with an expression of surprise. He held between two fingers a handsome gold ring set with a neat stone.

"Where did that come from?" he asked.

"Didn't you ever see it before?" inquired the train boy.

"Never set eyes on it in my life."

"That's a joke!" exclaimed Fred with a laugh.

"What's a joke?

"Why, the thief in drawing your wallet from your pocket dropped his ring. You've made an exchange, that is all."

"What is it worth?" asked Joshua, eagerly. "Permit me, my friend," said a gentleman sitting just behind, as he extended his hand for the ring. "I am a jeweler and can probably give you an idea of the value of the ring."

Joshua handed it over readily.

The jeweler eyed it carefully, and after a pause, handed it back.

"My friend," he said, "that ring is worth fifty dollars!"

"Fifty dollars!" ejaculated Joshua, his eyes distended with surprise. "I can't understand it. Cousin Sue has got a gold ring as big as this that only cost three dollars and a half."

"Very likely, but the stone of this is valuable. You've made money out of your pickpocket, if he only took ten dollars from you."

"But he'll come back for it."

The jeweler laughed.

"If he does, tell him where you found it, and ask how it came in your pocket. He won't dare to call for it."

"I'd rather have the ten dollars than the ring."

"I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll advance you twenty-five dollars on the ring, and agree to give it back to you any time within a year on payment of that sum, and suitable interest."

"You can have it, mister," said Joshua promptly.

As he pocketed the roll of bills given him in exchange, his face glowed with returning sunshine.

"By gosh!" he said, "I've made fifteen dollars."

"That' isn't a bad day's work!" said Fred.

"It's more'n I ever earned in a month before," said the young farmer. "I declare it's paid me to come to the city."

"You are lucky! Look out for pickpockets, as they don't always give anything in exchange. Now you can afford to buy some oranges."

"Give me two five-cent oranges and a banana," said Mr. Bascom with reckless extravagance. "I guess I can afford it, now I've made fifteen dollars."

"I wish that pickpocket would rob me," said Fred smiling. "Fifteen dollars would come in handy just now," and his smile was succeeded by a grave look, for money was scarce with the little household of which he was a member.

It is time to speak more particularly of Fred, who is the hero of this story. He was a pleasant-looking, but resolute and manly boy of seventeen, who had now been for some months employed on the Erie road. He had lost a place which he formerly occupied in a store, on account of the failure of the man whom he served, and after some weeks of enforced leisure had obtained his present position. Train boys are required to deposit with the company ten dollars to protect their employer from possible loss, this sum to be returned at the end of their term of service. They are, besides, obliged to buy an official cap, such as those of my readers who have traveled on any line of railroad are familiar with. Fred had been prevented for some weeks from taking the place because he had not the money required as a deposit. At length a gentleman who had confidence in him went with him to the superintendent and supplied the sum, and this removing the last obstacle, Fred Fenton began his daily runs. He was paid by a twenty per cent, commission on sales. It was necessary, therefore, for him to take in five dollars in order to make one for himself. He had thus far managed to average about a dollar a day, and this, though small, was an essential help to his widowed mother with whom he lived.

Just before reaching Jersey City, Joshua Bascom appealed to Fred.

"Could you tell me where to stop in York?" he asked. "Some nice cheap place?"

"I know a plain boarding-house kept by a policeman's wife, who lives near us," said Fred. "She would probably board you for five dollars a week."

"By hokey, that's just the place." said Joshua. "If you do it, I'll make it right with you."

"Never mind about that!" said Fred. "All you've got to do is to come with me. It will be no trouble."

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